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Cycling on Ice: You can do it!

By Christopher Ashley

You want to bike in the big freeze?  Here’s our guide to spinning in the snow…

Studs out

Should you use studded tyres when cycling on ice or snow?  Yes but only if it’s proper ice or snow at least as deep or thick as the length of tyre’s studs.  On cross country it’s almost obligatory.  Don’t take your studs onto an ice rink unless you have the owner’s permission.  We’re looking at you, Canada…

DIY studs

If your bike has disc brakes, you can use cable ties wrapped around the rim and tyre with the “stud” on the tyre side.  If you’re riding on slicks, this will give you more grip on the ice for a fraction of the cost of studded tyres.  When the ice thaws you can cut them off – no need to change your tyres!

It sure looks like a hell of a fun.

Plan your route

If you’re travelling on gritted roads with minimal ice, studs offer less control than naked tyres.  Think about your route, and if you’re going on well-travelled motor routes, leave the studs off your bike.  In the sections that are too icy for your bike, get off and push until you reach the next thawed or salted segment.

Deflate your tyres

Increase your tyre’s surface contact with the road by deflating your tyres slightly.  This will give you more purchase and smooth out your acceleration and braking.  Lower pressure tyres may not perform so well in corners so remember…

Increase your tyre’s surface contact with the road by deflating your tyres slightly.

Corner with care

Go slow for corners by looking ahead and braking early on the straight.  Avoid using your front brake in icy conditions your back brake gives you greater control.  Taking a spill on icy tarmac is best avoided.

Lower your saddle slightly

By lowering your saddle you’ll give your thighs a real workout even at lower speeds.  Just think of the gains you’re making for the spring thaw.  You’ll also lower your centre of gravity and improve your balance on unpredictable surfaces.

You can do it!

Chill out and take it easy on the Pepsi

In icy conditions it’s a lot easier to lose control of a bike than a car.  Keep yourself relaxed, don’t suddenly brake, turn, or accelerate.  Give yourself twice as long to get anywhere – follow all rules of the road that apply whether you’re travelling by 2 wheels, 4 wheels, or by foot.

Be realistic about safety

Regardless of where you stand on the Great Helmet Debate, if there’s ever a time to don the skull lid of shame, it’s when you’re cycling on ice.  Cycle safe, people, and enjoy the challenge of cycling on ice.